Senior Developer Issues

We’ve been talking about tech, our country, and our capabilities in starting startups. Now let’s look at something common to small, new companies and large, established ones alike. Software Developer Talent.

First of all who are the “seniors” and what makes them senior? While this was a PinoyJUG mailing list discussion on junior Java developers, it’s not limited to that skill set. The different criteria discussed were: tenure, technical skills (but are they all applicable?), talent, salary, maturity, and even political skills.

Once we have defined who the seniors are, are they available for hiring? Or did they move abroad? What does it take to get them back? There is current discussion on how Philippines-based companies are now boosting salaries to never-heard-before levels to attract or retain talent.

Of course, keeping talent is not just about salary. Pay is just 1/3 of Joel’s Criteria for Geek Job Satisfaction. Then Gabusch adds tips on keeping creative people happy. I had some thoughts on it as well comparing the developer situation in the Philippines and abroad (within my limited experience of course.)

There is seniority in terms of age. There was a discussion about the maximum age posted in local job ads, and postings for in other Asian countries. It seems that this is ageism is common in Asian work cultures, even as it’s illegal in US (and probably elsewhere.) I suspect this is because Asians are not comfortable with working with older or younger people as their peers. The younger people would look at an older person as someone who should be more senior to them in the organization. The older people would feel insecure that they are at the same level as younger people. But then again, it could also be due to the higher salaries that older people would get, or perceived higher costs and lower productivity.

What are the positions for senior developers outside of a traditional organization? There has been a discussion on PinoyJUG and a parallel one in PLUG (Philippine Linux Users Group) regarding the proper salary for a telecommuting US job. The most important point has been: should the candidate ask for a higher salary, since the US employer is expecting to spend, and to keep up the price expectations for Filipino developers? Or should the candidate avoid this “‘entitlement”‘ and ask for what they would normally want or need if it were a local company hiring. This has our country’s outsourcing competitiveness in mind – at least price-wise.


8 Responses

  1. Good blog, major reason of course why senior talent leave the country is money, yep! For one lets keep an open mind, would you stay here in our country knowing that you could earn 3 times as much as you would normally do abroad? of course not, even kids nowadays dream is to leave the country, all they would say is that they would want to work abroad rather than to be dried up here, LOL

  2. for me a senior programmer is anyone who has had enough programming ans system design experience to be able to share that experience with other people. he does not have to be very good at programming i think. he does have to be good at designing it.

    im hitting 35 next year. we need to get rid of this notion that after 35, a senior programmer needs to move towards administration or management. we do not stop being programmers just because we hit a certain age. me. im going to be a programmer for life. thats what i enjoy doing.

    in the states, we had programmers who were 60+ years old. it was pointed out why people like us gain the desire to leave the country. its because of these age issues.

  3. Personally, I think this labeling of seniority is doing more harm than good, for both employees and company.

    The company needs a skill set, not age nor tenure. Skills and experience will finish the job.

    Too bad that many companies uses seniority as basis of promotion to management and leadership. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but it’s not a solid criteria. A good senior experienced programmer will not mean a good leader.

  4. 你為什麼不想學國語? 誠摯邀請您來參加我們的演講會.

  5. Its not only those who have experience who are leaving but a lot of young grads are going everywhere to find jobs. In Singapore young IT grads are offered starting pay of $2800-3000(P90,000) so who would resist that. These are new grad salaries for graduates of 2007

  6. I think seniority should be more output and innovation-oriented than anything else. A stagnant old timer is not a senior developer: he’s an old Mort.

  7. Hi, i’m chika bugtas senior broadcast communication at UPd. i saw the link to your blog at yugatech. i’m doing a study about philippine podcasting. if you have time po, may i ask you to answer the ff questions po, kahit in bullet points lang po. you can email the answers at

    thank you so much for you time. god bless!


    1. Who introduced you to podcasting? How did you discover podcasting?
    2. What are your favorite podcasts? Why? (Describe these podcasts)
    3. What are your least favorite podcasts? Why? (Describe these podcasts)
    4. How often do you listen to or download podcast sites?
    5. How are you able to access podcasts?
    6. Are you planning to put up your own podcast site? Why yes? Why not?
    7. In what ways do you think can podcasting benefit the Filipino society?
    8. Are there negative effects of podcasting to Filipinos? If yes, what are those?
    9. Are you aware of any issues being thrown at podcasting? What are those? (Ex. Podcasting will kill radio broadcasting)
    10. What’s your personal assessment on the status of podcasting in the Philippines?
    11. Do you think podcasting will click in the Philippines? Why?

  8. Hey, Migs. Kumusta?

    Would you know anyone who might be interested in buying an entire set of J2EE books? I’m selling my Java library.


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